Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - A Rochester man has been sent to prison for illegal possession of a firearm.

26-year-old Romelio Balderas Junior was given the mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for possession of any firearm by a person convicted of a violent crime. Court records show Balderas was convicted of a second-degree assault charge in a 2018 case which resulted in a stayed prison sentence and 10 years on probation.

Minnesota Dept. of Corrections photo
Minnesota Dept. of Corrections photo
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The weapons charge that sent him to prison stemmed from a traffic stop in Rochester last June. The criminal complaint says the driver of the vehicle was slow to stop and made several additional turns after the officer following the vehicle activated his emergency lights, which raised his suspicions that the occupants were attempting to conceal items.

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Kim David/TSM
Kim David/TSM
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After the driver consented to a search of the vehicle, the officer located a backpack and suitcase and Balderas claimed ownership of the items. The court document says a loaded 9 mm pistol was found in the backpack.

It also says Balderas stated that he had purchased the gun "off the streets," and that he admitted that he knew he was ineligible to possess a firearm.

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